Monday, October 8, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Mercedes GLA scooped testing

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 05:09 AM PDT

Mercedes' Audi Q3-rivalling GLA has been spied testing ahead of its launch in 18 months' time

Mercedes' new entry level SUV has been spied undergoing testing in prototype guise for the first time 18 months before it is due to reach showrooms in the UK.

The new five seater, known internally as X156 but tipped to carry the name GLA into production in early 2014, has been conceived to rival the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Volkswagen Tiguan, with Mercedes-Benz officials already confirming the high riding SUV will offer a wide range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines together with the choice of either front- and, on selected models, four-wheel drive.

Part of a five strong line-up based on Mercedes-Benz's new MFA (modular front architecture) platform, the GLA will join the recently introduced third-generation A-class (W176) and second-generation B-class (W246) along with the soon-to-be revealed four-door CLA saloon (C117) and yet to be formally confirmed CLA Shooting Brake (S117) in what is shaping up as a concerted sales push by the German car maker, which is set on attracting younger customers to its ranks after slipping behind both Audi and BMW in the premium car sales race.

Although clothed in heavy disguise, the prototype GLA captured by Autocar's spy photographers reveal it will carry on the styling theme of the new A- and B-class with edgy exterior lines aimed at providing it with contemporary visual appeal spuriously lacking in Mercedes-Benz's more recent small cars.

Prominent design details include a large oval grille, generously dimensioned wheel houses to accommodate wheels of up to 21 inch in diameter, curvaceous rear shoulder line and angled tailgate with integral spoiler.

The GLA is set to offer the same range of engines as the B-class, alongside which it will be produced at Mercedes-Benz's new manufacturing facility in Kecskemet, Hungary.

Among the petrol units will be a Renault-sourced turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder producing 122bhp and 156bhp together with an in-house developed turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 211bhp and, in top-of-the-line AMG form in which it adopts a second turbocharger for added performance, a gutsy 350bhp. They will be joined by a single 1.8-litre four-cylinder common rail diesel engine with 109bhp and 136bhp. 

Gearbox choices for the GLA are set to include a standard six-speed manual and optional seven-speed dual clutch unit – the latter offering both manual and automatic modes. Base models are planned to get front-wheel drive, while more powerful upper end models will offer four-wheel drive via a Haldex style multi-plate clutch.

As with the recently introduced third-generation A-class, the GLA will support a range of optional media connectivity services, including full Apple iPhone and Google Android compatibility, as part of Mercedes-Benz's efforts to ensure it future models carry greater appeal among younger buyers than now. 

The GLA is one of three new SUVs Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce by the middle of the decade. Joining it in the UK will be the second-generation GLK, which is planned to be produced at the company's Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama, and a new BMW X6 rivalling MLC that is also planned to hail from Tuscaloosa.

The new GLK is based on Mercedes-Benz's new MRA (modular rear architecture) platform that will first see service underneath the fourth-generation C-class due out in 2014 and, for the first time, provide the scope for both left- and right-hand drive production - something the current model's underpinnings can't provide. The MLC uses the same basic underpinnings as the third-generation M-class.

BMW M4 undergoes Nürburgring tests

Posted: 08 Oct 2012 04:26 AM PDT

These are the latest pictures of the BMW M4, a new nameplate which will usher in an expansion of the 3-series line-up

The latest spy shots of the new BMW M4, which is seen here performing high-speed testing at the Nürburgring ahead of the car's launch late next year, reveal the new coupé's lower suspension, wider wheel arches and distinctive quad-exhausts.

The M4 marks the beginnings of an expansion of the 3-series line-up. It replaces both the coupé and cabriolet variants of the M3 in favour of 4-series re-badging, leaving the M3 as a stand-alone four-door saloon. The marketing scheme mirrors that of the 5-series and 6-series, with BMW charging a premium for the more upscale model as it seeks to provide more distinct driving and styling experiences from the standard saloon models.

Both the M4 coupé and cabriolet variants of the 4-series are likely to share the M3's same basic structure and its new, turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine. Weight-saving is likely to go one step further with the M4, however, with technical highlights such as a carbonfibre roof featuring in order to reduce weight and provide the lowest possible centre of gravity.

The M3 is expected to arrive early next year, with the M4 arriving sevelar months later. A Gran Coupé version is expected to follow in 2014.

Tom Heron

First drive review: Mercedes-Benz E300 Bluetec Hybrid

Posted: 04 Oct 2012 08:15 AM PDT

Powertrain tech is impressively refined and promises much for future development, but for private buyers the E300 Hybrid's price premium is hard to justify. The latest diesel hybrid to join the mass market in the UK, and a rather different approach to the technology than we've so far seen. The Mercedes-Benz E300 Hybrid gets a 27bhp electric motor (powered by a 19kw lithium ion battery) installed into the guts of the familiar 7G-Tronic automatic transmission, which is then mated to the 201bhp, 2.2-litre turbodiesel motor that is already firmly established and liked in the E250 CDI.A wet clutch fitted to the 7G-Tronic auto allows the drivetrain to completely disconnect the diesel engine and run on electric power alone, at parking speeds or at higher speeds when under little or no throttle load.

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